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December 31, 2011


My Sounds of the Year 2011

by soundlandscapes

THE WEEK BETWEEN CHRISTMAS and the New Year always seems rather like a no-man’s land to me – winding down from the Christmas festivities and the anticipation of the New Year celebrations; the dying embers of the old year and the sparkle of the new year in prospect.

During this week I’ve been catching up with some blogs I visit regularly and some I haven’t seen for a while. I’ve found that a good number of them seem to be in reflective mood, looking back over 2011 and highlighting their top posts or posts that have had a special significance for them during the year. During this week in no-man’s land I’ve been reflecting too, reflecting on the sounds I’ve recorded during the past year.

2011 has been a good sound year for me. As always, my sound haul has been eclectic covering a wide range of sounds that capture the sonic atmosphere of Paris and sometimes, of other places too. I’m afraid that from my collection of sounds recorded in 2011 the temptation to select a ‘Sound of the Year’ was too great to resist.

I would like to present three sounds out of the many I’ve collected during the year and I’ve chosen these, not because they are necessarily the best sounds either technically or artistically but because they each have a special significance for me.

So, here we go …


A Celebration in the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris:

This is the sound of Jean-Pierre Leguay, Organist Titulaire de Notre-Dame, playing the magnificent Cavaille-Col Grand Orgue de Notre-Dame in the Cathédrale de Notre Dame at the end of the service to mark the beatification of Pope Jean-Paul II presided over by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Cardinal Archbishop of Paris.

I’ve chosen this piece simply because of its majesty. It’s not often that one gets to hear one of the world’s finest cathedral organists playing one of the world’s finest cathedral organs in one of the world’s finest cathedrals to a congregation of well over a thousand.

This recording sends shivers up my spine every time I listen to it.


The Bornus Consort:

This recording is special to me because it came about as a result of an invitation I received from some friends in Warsaw to visit them at their home to hear the Bornus Consort give a private recital.

Established in 1981 by Marcin Bornus-Szczycinski, The Bornus Consort specialise in singing early music from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. As well as singing early Polish music, the ensemble also sings Dutch polyphony, French chansons, Italian and English madrigals together with contemporary pieces. In recent years the ensemble has focused on various forms of Gregorian chant, including the Dominican liturgical tradition.

I’ve chosen this recording because of its intimacy and also because it reminds me of the generosity and kindness of my Polish friends.


Through an Open Window:

I’ve chosen this piece, recorded in Cité Veron in the 18th arrondissement, as my ‘Sound of the Year’ because it best represents the sound work that I do and you can see the full story behind this sound by clicking on the link above. The story is worth reading to set the sound in context.

I am a sound hunter, a flaneur, endlessly pounding the streets of Paris hunting for sounds that evoke the atmosphere of this city. Sometimes those sounds are hard to find but there is no feeling quite like finding a sound that captures the atmosphere perfectly, and this one does.

And a sound that can bring a tear to the eye of at least one member of my audience, a former ballet dancer, simply has to be my Sound of the Year!

And Finally …

During 2011, some people have very kindly given up their time to contribute to this blog with spoken pieces. I would like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to:

Victoria Fenner for A Conversation With Victoria Fenner – Documentary Poet;

Susie Kahlich for A Personal View of Parc Monceau;

Adam Roberts for A Personal View of the Hôpital Salpêtrière.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jean-Pascal Templier
    Jan 3 2012

    Dear Des,
    I fully agree with your choise of Notre Dame organ and Warsaw Bornus Consort to celebrate 2011.
    I wish you an happy and great New Year full of new sounds and new locations.
    Best regards,

    • Jan 3 2012

      Thanks Jean-Pascal. I’m pleased you enjoyed my selection. I wish you a very Happy New Year too.


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